Easy Ways to Destroy Public Trust

Ethics Grift Optics Politics

            Pearl River     It’s important to believe that the vast majority of public officials are honest and straight forward servants of the common weal.  Why do some of them have such a blind spot in this area and such a ready willingness to destroy public trust?

Take insider trading for example.  The slimmest minority of Americans are in any position to stumble onto inside information on any company’s actions to then couple it with fancy stock transactions on the major exchanges.  The Security Exchange Commission (SEC) regularly polices people within the industry when there are suspicions about insider trading.  People occasionally go to jail for it and return the ill-gotten gains.  There’s no question that this is wrong and illegal.

Unbelievably, 97 Senators and Congressman reportedly made stock trades on companies and their actions that were under the supervision of committees on which they serve.  That’s almost 20% of our federally election representatives.  Oh, my goodness, their excuses in the main were so incredibly lame.  Wives and husbands took the lion share of the blame, while they claimed to be dumber than posts.  More stupidly, they were having to answer to this after significant scandals for Senators within the last year who seemed to almost be day traders while working on their public jobs.  As incredibly, they seem to have never passed any legislation that makes such wheeling and dealing illegal.  Speaker Pelosi promises to do something, but she was also named among the possible inside traders, and I don’t think this is high on her list.  The optics are terrible, and the pretense at ethics is laughable.

Not that this is just a federal problem.  There’s a quixotic recall effort underway in New Orleans now to recall the mayor.  The bar is so high that I would be surprised if it were successful, but I’m not surprised that it’s all the rage for many.  Mayor LaToya Cantrell by my lights has not done a bad job as mayor, but more recently has almost gone out of her way to create this mess by her refusal to take responsibility for her own actions and policies.  No small part of it was based on wildly exorbitant travel expenses on foreign travel that didn’t pass muster as much more than a junket.  The price tag is $60,000 for six trips so far in 2022 with one splurge for almost $30,000 to some unknown town on the French Rivera that also somehow involved some high-priced time in Paris. When the media hounded her about repaying the city, her refusal was categorical and her defense was an implausible claim that she had to fly first class with all the trimmings for safety reasons.  The number of incidents where passengers are in physical danger on intercontinental airlines is so miniscule as to virtually nonexistent.  Come on!

We wonder why Trump thought he could keep his grifting going in the White House and beyond, but maybe we were naïve.  He may have thought that was simply standard operating procedure.  The way some public officials are acting, maybe he was right, as much as it hurts to say so.